Harrisburg Kitchen & Bath

Kitchen Island Design Tips

October 19, 2015

Looking for more counter space, seating, and storage in your kitchen? A kitchen island may be the solution.

kitchen island

A kitchen island is an unattached counter with access on all sides. Islands can enhance a kitchen’s style and function. But is a kitchen island right for your home? Consider your space and needs to decide.


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First, determine if you have enough space for an island.

A kitchen island requires adequate space to be functional. Practically speaking, the island should enhance your kitchen’s utility, workflow, and appearance not detract from it. There must be enough space around its perimeter to open doors, sit down, and move comfortably.

How do you know what will work well? The answer is experience.

Professionals use the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) Guidelines to maximize the safety and functionality of kitchens and bathrooms.

Kitchen Work Aisles and Walkways

work aisle is where a person stands while working in the kitchen. The width of a work aisle should be at least 42 inches for one cook and 48 inches for multiple cooks and on sides with appliances to account for door swings.

A walkway is a passageway through the kitchen. The width of a walkway should be at least 36 inches and should not cross the work triangle . If two walkways are perpendicular to each other, one walkway should be at least 42 inches wide.

Countertop Width

The minimum countertop width of an island should be 24 inches.

Island Height

The height of an island can vary based on function. The standard kitchen countertop height is 36 inches, but 30 inches is best for food-prep. The standard bar height is 42 inches.

Seating Considerations

The higher the countertop, the less overhang is needed for comfortable seating.
Standard counter height = 15-inch overhang
Bar counter height = 12-inch overhang

If you have enough space for an island, next think about what you need it to do.

If planned properly, a kitchen island can be a highly efficient multi-functional unit.

kitchen island Fixtures and Appliances - An island can be a good spot for a fixtures and appliances such as a sink, cooktop, dishwasher, microwave oven, under-cabinet refrigerator, etc. Remember electrical outlets are essential for operating small appliances.

 Storage - Identify what items you'd like to store and choose custom cabinetry to be as efficient as possible.
Consider open shelving for cookbooks and decorative items, vertical storage for baking sheets and cutting boards, deep drawers for pots and pans, narrow drawers for spices and utensils, etc.

kitchen island• Seating - A home's kitchen is activity central. An island provides a place for casual dining, homework, and conversation to take place.

• Lighting - Be sure to include proper lighting into your kitchen design plan!

kitchen islandAn island can enhance your kitchen in many ways, but a poorly planned island will be frustrating.

If you're considering a kitchen island, look for design inspiration on Houzz and meet with professionals you can trust. We'd be happy to help you get the home of your dreams. How can we help you?

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NKBA Kitchen & Bath Planning Guidelines
The Thirty-One Kitchen Design Rules, Illustrated
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